Protect Vulnerable Populations From Exploitative Conservatorships

Target: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Goal: Empower people living under conservatorships to fight for their rights.

“I don’t think I can live a full life. I feel ganged up on, I feel bullied and I feel alone.” Britney Spears uttered these words as her well-publicized quest to end her decade-plus conservatorship continues. The plight of the pop star has brought renewed scrutiny to the conservatorship process, which gives an individual or a group legal power over someone who is deemed unable to care for themselves.

Spears alleges that her father, the primary conservator in her case, has almost authoritarian control over her life. She claims he has exerted particularly damaging dominion over her medical decisions and her finances, the latter of which may have cost her millions of dollars. While the conservatorship was granted at a time when the singer experienced struggles with mental illness, she is currently doing better and wants her decision-making power back. A judge recently gave her an important victory by declaring she could hire her own lawyer. For many people nationwide with less resources, however, the opportunity for freedom is much slimmer.

This high-profile case helped inspire the proposed Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation (FREE) Act. The primary purpose of the law would be to prevent abuse of a conservatorship role. Specifically, the affected person would have the opportunity to petition for a public guardian in place of their conservator. An independent case worker would also be assigned to the conservatorships. This worker could look out for any signs of mistreatment or malfeasance and could serve an important point-of-contact for the conservatee. When such a bill came before Congress previously, it was never formally introduced for a vote.

Sign the petition below to demand that this time the nation’s leaders do a better job of ensuring the welfare of some of its most vulnerable citizens.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

Whether limited or more expansive, short-term or permanent, paying or non-paying, much of the country can agree that the concept of conservatorships deserves closer scrutiny. Roughly one-and-a-half million people in the United States are under conservatorships, and this number may be a vast under-count. For all intents and purposes, many of these individuals have literally lost control over the most basic aspects of their lives.

The FREE Act, sponsored by several legislators, could better protect these individuals by giving them back their power of choice. The bill would also provide dedicated advocates who will ensure the conservatee’s best interests are being met, free from abuse or exploitation. Please make sure this important measure does not die a slow death in committee. Advocate for its introduction and commit to a vote.

Take this first important step for all the Americans who feel they have been deprived of their voice and their power.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Pixabay


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